The situation in Hawaii after the ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano has worsened and the lava has burnt 26 homes. The flow of lava intensified Sunday and fissures that opened overnight, farther from the original eruption spot, are spewing molten rock.
The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Sunday afternoon that a flow of lava has advanced to about 0.6 miles northwards following the continuous eruptions from cracks in the ground. More than 1700 people have been evacuated. The evacuees are currently taking shelter at community centers or on surrounding islands.
Also, toxic sulfur dioxide gas has shrouded the region. Moreover, as the lava burns forested area, organic matter releases methane, which can get trapped in small pockets beneath lava flows and can explode later, according to U.S. Geological Survey volcano scientist Wendy Stovall.
The predicament of the residents started after more than 600 earthquakes (since April 30) made Kilauea volcano in Hawaii's Big Island leak lava in residential areas. Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for a portion of Leilani Estates, a subdivision in the Puna District on Hawaii Island after a 5.0-magnitude earthquake hit the area last Thursday. Now two new fissures have opened in the neighborhood.
Scientists have also said the volcano was likely to release more lava through additional vents, but they were unable to say where, according to CBS news. Hawaii County civil defense administrator Talmadge Magno also told the news organization that scientists are not sure how long the volcanic activities will continue.
Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes and last week the crater floor of the Puu Oo vent, which is a volcanic cone in the eastern rift zone of the mountain, collapsed, pushing the magma more than 10 miles downslope toward the southeast coastline.
Areas like Nanawele Estates, Leilani Estates and the coastal area of Kapoho could be affected by the volcanic eruption.